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This thought occurred to me twice this week: I wonder if I should just throw it out and start over

The first time was when I looked at the plant the vet had sent me when my cat passed away last year. I really like the plant, but sometimes when I look at it, I remember it’s only here because my cat isn’t here anymore. 

Looking at the leaves, now brown around the edges, my brain reminds me: Don’t you have a black thumb?  I really don’t, but that’s what I used to think.

The second time I thought about throwing things away en masse was when I was looking for a notepad and couldn’t find it under all the expired coupons and old receipts in the junk drawer.

Luckily, I realized I shouldn’t toss anything until it had been sorted. Put the things I need in there and throw away or find new homes for the rest of the stuff. Keep the letter opener, tape, and pens. Discard the keys to door locks we don’t even have anymore, pile of pennies, and bent paper clips.

The truth is, the plant just needed pruning. The drawer just needed organizing. Once it was re-organized, I re-named it: the Utility Drawer. There’s not one bit of junk in there anymore. Once I re-framed the way I see that plant, it’s actually a tribute to a sweet creature we’ll always remember fondly. I re-named it: the Blessing Blossom.

Sometimes it just takes a second look to see things in a different light.

Faithful readers of our humble bloggie know that I lost my pet partner, KitKat, recently, so forgive me as I ramble on with stories about him for the next few posts. He meant so much to me and my son, and I realized today he was not just a cat. He was a counselor.

My son has dealt with exhaustion due to a medical condition his whole life. It’s affected his quality of life immensely, and, as a mother, it’s pained me that I can’t fix it for him.

One morning, I couldn’t wake up Cole, so I cried for a moment in the kitchen. My cat came into the room. “I don’t know how to help him. He’s not sleeping well or feeling good. I don’t know how to help him live well,” I said to my cat as if he understood.

KitKat came over to me, bumped against my leg and stayed there, waiting.

Pet me, he was saying. You feel good when you pet me. So if you feel good, you’ll be in a better mood. Let go of what you can’t solve now.

Still tightly clenched, I went over to the couch in the living room and he came to sit near me. As I patted his furry head, he purred. The tension was dissipating, and even though I still didn’t have a solution to this fatigue that never went away, I felt my shoulders start to relax.

You can’t reach out and grab hold of life with your hands clenched. Even if you’ve been running in circles for the whole week, find a way to have a day of rest. Lay your burden down and be at peace. If you can’t solve the problem, resolve the energy. You’ll find that things will look brighter tomorrow.

The way I’ve come to look at life is that the the sun is always shining somewhere. This approach helps me through the darker days. Even when it rains, I know the flowers are getting nourished, so there’s always a silver lining.

My son and I had to say farewell to our KitKat this week, so our hearts are heavy. The bright side is, he was here. He was loved. He knew he was loved. Kit had been a stray who found a way to trust a kindly lady who really doesn’t trust easily herself. He made himself at home with us, entertaining us with his 3 AM showing of “Stealth NinjaCat Tears Down Hall, Jumps Onto Bed and Sticks the Landing.”

He’d play mediator when he’d see me walk into my son’s room, remembering those mornings when Cole was in school and I had to raise my voice to wake him up. Everything okay here? KitKat would convey, bumping against my legs.

He’d speak, using the geography of various squares in the house like a Meow Map. If he sat on the bathroom rug, he was saying, Who’s up for a back scratching session? 

If he sat on the small washcloth I’d thrown onto the floor to soothe my aching feet (like John McClane in Die Hard, I’d make “fists with my toes”), he was saying, I’m here to comfort you, but also, you’ve put a square on the floor. You must realize all your base are belong to me. It was only six inches across, so my feet and his whole body would be co-existing on that tiny fabric. I have to believe he knew how much it would amuse me.

These little life forms are really a series of small hinges holding the whole structure of the world together, if you think about it. Micro-bursts of blessings that keep us going. We’re going to miss KitKat, but luckily, I’m one of those people who write blog posts about their pets, so I can always look back at those stories and smile.  Just as I wrote about my beloved dog, Sheena, when I lost her, beautiful times are the ones I’ll remember.

5lrxnlhfzoy-paul-greenIt’s been said that public speaking is easier if you picture your audience naked. (Oh my! How did Hugh Jackman get into the audience? Crikey! 🙂 Or for the younger crowd, perhaps Ryan Gosling. Hey Girl.)

Writing a story recently, I wasn’t sure if it was a drama with comedic notes or a comedy with dramatic underpinnings. I couldn’t quite place my audience.

I decided it was a lot like life: a comedy with dramatic under…pants. The key is keeping it light and not airing the dirty laundry.

Everybody’s dealing with something just under the surface.

In times like these, it’s more important than ever to focus on the good things in life. I like to picture my audience smiling. That’s why most of my posts are about accentuating the positive.

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I like to grab that hook of hope and hang my hat on it. For me, it’s laughter. Finding the funny in everyday things.

That maniacal look in my KitKat’s eyes as he rolls on the rug as if he finally tracked down his mortal enemy. “Bathroom rug… at last we meet. In a dark corner at the crack of dawn. Prepare to meet thy doom!”

 

20170102_203052The Lyft driver who thought he was going to make my day when he gave me a free sample of…. wrinkle cream! Derived from snails, yet. Some in my sensible shoes might have been offended when given an old lady lotion, but I laughed out loud. “Snails? My word. Well, they’re not at all wrinkly, that’s true. More slimy.”

And for those around you who only seem to complain and kvetch? 

A friend of mine in HR once told me her policy: “If you’re coming to see me just to vent, I’ll give you five minutes. If you want to solve the problem, I’ve got all day.”

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“Commiserate” is a word that tells its own story: let’s come together to share our misery.

What’s the opposite of “commiserate”?

Prayer.

People of faith coming together to request that others be blessed.

It’s like a spiritual standing ovation. Now that’s a story with a happy ending!

“Ms. Williams, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but…With this test result, we think the most humane option would be to put him down,” the vet said to me over the phone last week.

I suppose I didn’t even realize that this really was my cat until I heard these words.  After all, I’d scarcely succeeded in getting this stray cat to trust me enough to come near.

Reluctantly, after a long conversation and phone calls to family members, I agreed that they should euthanize my cat. I sat alone for an hour, beside myself and in tears.  Then the phone rang again.

Apparently, the senior veterinarian had disagreed with the prognosis. He said he wouldn’t euthanize this cat. It wasn’t necessary, he said, and it wasn’t right. This isn’t the sort of condition that requires such an extreme measure.

I was so relieved!  So glad I’d get to bring my semi-cat home.  He was still semi-stray, since he insisted on going out every night. It worried me, because sometimes he’d come back with scratches on his face. Once, he came back to my door in the morning with gasoline on his back, as if he had slept next to a car or a lawn mower.

Even with this good news, I was still consumed with guilt.  Just the day before, I was thinking of asking the vet if they knew of an organization that could help me find KitKat a “forever-home.”

You see, I’d been trying for months to get the cat to stay inside with us, learn to use the litter box, and just be part of the family.  But night after night, Kitkat would wake me with loud meows from the sunroom – sometimes at 2 or 3 in the morning – and demand to be let out. He did spend the whole day snoozing on a comfy armchair, but at night, he was outta there.

To be honest, it was really exhausting trying to take care of this cat, my house, my son and myself, since I was diagnosed with progressive MS. Chronic pain is my constant companion, along with neuropathy, spasticity, balance and gait issues. Add to it all a sweet but skittish kitty, and I sometimes felt it was more than I could handle.  He had to have things done in a certain way, and any minor change would send him running to the door.  If there was a noise he didn’t recognize, he’d hide behind the couch.

This cat is kind of a hard case, I said to myself.

But if I really think about it… couldn’t God say the same thing about me?  After all, I don’t trust people easily – if at all (I mean, I am from Jersey!)  I’m kind of a loner and not open to new situations.  I have my own way of doing things, and I’m not about to change my ways at this stage of the game.  I have quirks aplenty, such as an aversion to crumbs on the kitchen table.  I cannot, will not eat until I clear those crumbs! And I need to have my chapstick and box of tissues near me at all times.

Does that sound a bit persnickety?

Just like my cat.

I had to remind myself that this cat had really come a long way from the days when he skulked around the perimeter of my yard, scrounging for food.  It took the better part of a year before he came close enough for me to pat him.  And when he finally did come near, he purred like a motorboat’s engine.  It was loud and clear.  He was making the effort as best he could.

And I’d come a long way too.  This time last year, I was in the hospital, recovering from an MS exacerbation.  When I came home, I couldn’t feel my feet, as I wrote about in an earlier post.  I didn’t bounce right back immediately; no, it took patience, time and a veritable village of health care professionals to help me literally get back on my feet.

If God had thrown up his hands and thought, that woman is such a hard case! …where in the world would I be? No, He didn’t give up on me. He was there all along.

So I’ll keep trying to make this persnickety semi-cat feel at home here, and I’ll keep in mind that even hard cases (like me and Kitkat) deserve a loving family and a good life. I’m grateful that God gave us both a second chance. Pardon me now, while I go let the cat out.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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